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Self Teaching Music Theory Book Recommendation
I am looking for a good self-teaching music theory book
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cid
October 21, 2019 - 8:14 am
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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 Can anyone recommend a good self-teaching music theory book or series? I want to get a better grasp of music theory, chords, keys, how keys interact with each other and with mood, logical progression of keys and chords, clefs, time signatures, etc.

As I have mentioned in other posts, the last music theory I had was a little being taught in 7th grade music class. There was no music class after 7th grade, just the ability to join chorus or band, both of which were done at earlier grades, too. There wasn’t any theory taught in chorus, do not know about band.

I had a little brushed on in instrument lessons over the years, but none of the instructors really were consistent with including it. I did mention that I thought I needed it in lessons to help understand learning that instrument. Didn’t happen. I decided it was just not included. 

My current cello instructor is using it, but it is beyond what I know, so I would like to find a book, or a series of books, that is not written for a grade schooler, that I can use to learn music theory: circle of fifths, identifying keys, being able to get the rhythm in my mind when looking at the music, chord progression, etc. I only remember the very basics from what little I was taught in 7th grade. Since I do not know much about it, I don’t really know what to mention I am looking for. I have heard “circle of fifths” mentioned.

A book that has actual little exercises to do, with the answers somewhere in the book, so I am not just reading would be great.

I don’t want to buy a bunch of books and then be disappointed and waste money on them. So, I was wondering if any of you could recommend anything. 

Thanks in advance.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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October 21, 2019 - 8:44 am
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https://www.amazon.com/gp/offe.....038;sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offe.....038;sr=8-1

Those abbreviated links look identical, but they link to two separate volumes. If you wait a while, you should be able to get them even cheaper (on second thoughts, volume 2 is 72 cents including shipping, lol!). Go for the paperback, not the "sheet music" option, whatever that is.

Andrew

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GregW
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October 21, 2019 - 9:52 am
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Edlys music theory books for practical people(2) from a generic instrument or leaning piano.  From a guitar perspective the 2 Desi Serna books or the flatpicking essential series of books from flatpick.com

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GregW
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October 21, 2019 - 10:05 am
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I also found a used textbook for cheap at McCays..maybe a chain in the U.S.?  Not sure if its just a Nashville thing..anyway called Tonal Harmony.  Published by mcgraw Hill.  Think its more of a 1st or 2nd year college or Jr college type music theory book.  Haven't really read much of it.  My eyes started glazing over.

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AndrewH
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October 21, 2019 - 1:47 pm
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I recommend the AB Guide, mentioned above. It uses British terms, but I haven't found an American book that is similarly good in terms of pacing and explanations. The first book covers most of what a performer needs to know, the second book is more geared toward composition.

 

Greg, do you mean Tonal Harmony by Kostka & Payne? That's a college textbook. It gets very advanced very quickly -- it zips through all the material in the first half of the AB Guide in the first four or five (of 28) chapters, which are skipped by most college courses that use it.

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cid
October 21, 2019 - 2:26 pm
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Ok, I don’t need to know how to compose. I just need to understand what my instructor is talking about so he doesn’t have to get my blank stare that I am soooooo experienced at giving! LOL 

I think the ABS is more geared towards those musicians who plan to take those tests to be graded, right? Let’s face it, I will be 65 in a week. I am not going to become a professional musician.

Is there something that will explain circle if fifths, keys and their purpose, patterns that will help you have an idea of the basic note structure of the song so it would make sense as to what note would logically be next so I can learn it a little more fluently? I don’t see patterns like others see because I don’t know exactly what they are. This probably made no sense because I have no idea what the terminology would be. 

Not specific to any instrument. Just basic knowledge of music, the structure, etc. Something I can work on on my own, or ask about a questionable part in a lesson. I am going to look at the music shop after my lesson this week, but it is limited, I think think I have seen what is there, they seemed to be aimed more towards the young elementary grade students when I looked before. will see if there are new ones, or maybe they ones for adult learners are in a different spot.

I will investigate what you all have mentioned, and any other suggestions that pop up.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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GregW
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October 21, 2019 - 8:03 pm
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AndrewH said
I recommend the AB Guide, mentioned above. It uses British terms, but I haven't found an American book that is similarly good in terms of pacing and explanations. The first book covers most of what a performer needs to know, the second book is more geared toward composition.

 

Greg, do you mean Tonal Harmony by Kostka & Payne? That's a college textbook. It gets very advanced very quickly -- it zips through all the material in the first half of the AB Guide in the first four or five (of 28) chapters, which are skipped by most college courses that use it.

  

Yeah it was a used sixth edition I think.  They had it for around15.00 maybe if that.  Way more than I'll ever need.  Definitely a textbook.

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AndrewH
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October 21, 2019 - 9:15 pm
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The AB Guide is based on the ABRSM curriculum, but you'll find everything you need in Volume I of it. It doesn't strictly follow grade levels, because it's not really meant to be used as a textbook.

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cid
October 21, 2019 - 9:41 pm
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Thanks everyone. Will look for info on all of these and will ask my instructor for input at my next lesson. Thanks, again.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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October 22, 2019 - 2:23 am
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Andrew may be right about the second volume of the AB guide being aimed at composing, however, as I said in an earlier post, that's where, in the index, I found a reference to the tenor clef. And, although you may not want to compose, it may help to explain composers' choices that puzzle you. And at 72 cents incl shipping, there's  not a lot of point in turning it down.

If all you want to know is what the circle of fifths is, then there are plenty of pages in Wikipedia about that kind of thing. They might lead you on to, say, jazz turns, in which case I can recommend a book called Jazzology, but I've only read half of it.

These things crop up everywhere - look at the first half of Satie's Gymnopédie 1. The chord progression is something along the lines of F#m13, Bm11, Em9, Am7, D (from memory).

Andrew

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Ripton
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October 24, 2019 - 12:11 pm
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great topic @cid. I need to do this myself. 

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cid
October 24, 2019 - 1:14 pm
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Thank you, @Ripton I didn’t have time to check the music shop for books while I was there for my lesson yesterday. Didn’t have time to check with my instructor because we are really concentrating on getting me used to moving around the fingerboard more smoothly and were doing intense scale work. I really enjoyed it, but had no time to ask about a theory book.

I am not sure if I am really needing needing a theory book, but I think I am missing a lot of general music knowledge that will be helpful to have as we progress with difficulty. I don’t know why I am thinking it, but I really have a gut feeling, that I should try to find something. I think the ABRSM is more than I am looking for. Plus, I am really looking for some kind of workbook to help cement the info in my brain. I cannot just read the info and have it mean anything. If I find something, I will let you know. Please do the same if you do. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Ripton
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October 27, 2019 - 9:29 am
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@cid Will do. I am struggling with my playing, I think because I lack a good grasp of some concepts. Primarily the circle of fifths, harmony, drones, and chords. I can join with other musicians even when I don't know the song if I could apply the circle of fifths to real-time music. How do I know when a chord changes, how do I play a chord...

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Mark
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October 27, 2019 - 11:37 pm
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CID, 

This is not a book, but it might help

Mark

https://www.music-theory-for-m.....cians.com/

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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cid
October 28, 2019 - 10:55 am
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@Mark This the website looks very promising. I have put a link to my homepage. 

@Ripton You might want to check out Mark’s link too.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Ripton
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October 28, 2019 - 8:35 pm
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Mark said
CID, 

This is not a book, but it might help

Mark

https://www.music-theory-for-m.....cians.com/

  

awesome. thanks

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cid
November 16, 2019 - 12:23 pm
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My instructor is helping me out. He is also going to bring me the theory book he no longer uses. 👍

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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